Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu threw a direct challenge on Monday at the world's handling of the growing Iranian threat to obtain nuclear weapons. “We shall see in the following weeks whether the international community deals with this evil before it spreads,” he said at the opening of an exhibition of the blueprints for the
“There is evil in the world, and it doesn't stop; it spreads," Prime Minister Netanyahu added. "There is a new call to destroy the Jewish state. It's our problem, but not only our problem."
Some one million Jews were slaughtered at Auschwitz, and the recently-obtained blueprints show the entrance where trains were crammed with Jews before they were led to death in gas chambers. The blueprints also show the path where the cynical "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Will Make You Free) sign was hung. The sign was stolen last month and restored to the site of the camp last week.
The Nazis burned the archived Auschwitz documents next to the death camp before the liberation in an attempt to cover up their crimes against humanity. The blueprints were in a separate building and were found in an abandoned Berlin apartment two years ago. The German newspaper Bild obtained and published them last year before presenting the collection of 29 drafts last year to Prime Minister Netanyahu.
"The original plans detailing the construction of Auschwitz constitute a graphic illustration of the Germans' systematic effort to carry out the Final Solution," said Yad VaShem Chairman Avner Shalev.
The "Architecture of Murder" exhibit also includes aerial photos of Auschwitz taken by the British during the war, a report written by two Jews who escaped and photos showing smoke billowing from the six crematoria that killed thousands of Jews every day.
Shalev said he hopes that a traveling version of the exhibition, which will open on Tuesday at the United Nations in New York, will help counter Holocaust denials. Prime Minister Netanyahu waved the blueprints at the U.N. podium last September during a condemnation of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
A testimony recorded at Yad VaShem quotes a Nazi SS guard who witnessed murder by gas:
“A number of victims noticed that the covers had been removed from the six holes in the ceiling [of the gas chamber]. They screamed in terror when a head, covered in a gas-mask, appeared at one of the holes. The 'disinfectors' went to work…. Using a hammer and chisel, they opened some innocuous-looking tins which bore the inscription ‘Zyklon, to be used against vermin. Attention, poison! To be opened by trained personnel only.’
“As soon as the tins were opened, their contents were thrown through the holes, and the covers were replaced immediately… about two minutes later, the screams died down, and only muffled groans could be heard. Most of the victims had already lost consciousness. Two more minutes passed, and Grabner [one of the SS men] stopped looking at his watch. Absolute silence prevailed.”